St. Edward girls basketball coach Michelle Dawson said her team feeds off the energy of point guard Rena Ranallo.
The Green Wave needed a spark late in the third quarter Tuesday night and Ranallo provided it. The junior scored 8 points and had a steal that led to a layup during a 14-1 run to break open a tie game as St. Edward beat Marian Central, 70-60, in a Suburban Christian Conference crossover matchup in Elgin.
"We were a little more aggressive," Ranallo said. "Our defense was a lot better. We had deflections and got easy layups."
The game was tied 49-49 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. A basket from Ranallo, an offensive rebound and putback from Kelly Tripicchio and a pair of Ranallo free throws gave St. Edward (17-7) a 55-49 lead heading into the fourth. Ranallo hit 1 of 2 free throws and Callie Johnson had a layup off a Madeline Kerr steal for a 58-49 lead with 6:55 left. After a free throw from the Hurricanes' Shannon Wuensch, Ranallo hit a 3-pointer and her steal led to another Johnson layup for a 63-50 lead with 6 minutes remaining.
"When (Ranallo) is penetrating like that and when she's helping get stops on defense, it gets the rest of the team going," Dawson said.
The lead grew to 16, 70-54, with 2:05 left before Marian Central (9-10) scored the final 6 points.
It appeared as though the game would be a blow out early. A 13-0 run in the first quarter helped the Green Wave take a 20-7 lead. But Marian Central rallied in the second quarter, getting 13 points in the quarter from Wuensch. The Hurricanes were 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc in the second quarter, cutting their deficit to only 1, 34-33, at halftime.
"I think in the second quarter we started hurrying our offense," said Dawson, who watched her team go 4-for-11 from the floor in the second quarter. "We didn't have the best shot selection. We were just making one or two passes and putting up the shot."
Marian Central got baskets from Caitlin McKenna and Wuensch to open the second half to cap a 14-1 run and take a 37-34 lead. The game remained close until St. Edward's decisive run.
The Green Wave had four players score in double figures. Johnson led the way with 15 points. Ranallo had 14. Tripicchio had 11 points and 7 rebounds. Alex Lee added 12 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Kerr had 9 points and 3 steals. The Green Wave forced 28 turnovers, but did commit 25 of their own.
The Hurricanes did not get the same kind of offensive balance. Wuensch scored a game-high 27 points. Alissa Melchionna added 8.
The pace was fast throughout as both teams pressed and tried to use a trapping zone, forcing numerous mistakes and leading to 112 combined shot attempts.
"It's the team with the less turnovers that wins a scrappy game like that," Ranallo said.